Helichrysum italicum is a perennial herbaceous plant which belongs to the Asteraceae family and grows naturally in the Mediterranean area (Italy, France, ex Jugoslavia).
Its stems are thin and the leaves are green-grey with silver reflections, covered by a thin downy.
It has its roots in the ancient Greece in fact its name derives from Heliochryson which is composed of Helios = SUN and Chriso = GOLD).
The intense yellow flowers as well as laurel were used by the priests to adorn the heads of the sacred statues which shone like gold under the sun.
Most likely, its inspiration to the sun and the gold also depends on the seasonality of flowering which takes place mainly during the summer and also to its typical radial shape.
The plant known as "immortal"
When it withers, Helichrysum has the characteristic of keeping its aroma and shape intact. For this reason Helichrysum has been given the singular name of "Immortal", or in jargon "everlasting".
Its use was not only for the embellishment of the statues, actually its beneficial properties were already known from ancient times such as natural remedies for skin care and respiratory tract.
The several active principles of Helichrysum
The composition of Helichrysum flowers is rich in active ingredients such as flavonoids, essential oils, tannins, caffeic acid, with bacteriostatic and arenarine action, lactones, phytosterols and triperpenic substances which stimulate the hormonal activity of the adrenal gland.
- It contains antibacterial, antifungal and other substances to which are attributed a certain antibiotic activity, useful for example in facilitating the elimination of phlegm or to reduce cough spasms or even improve breathing in case of colds.
- An infusion of Helichrysum flowers is useful in case of dry cough and nasal congestion caused by environments saturated with smog or where the air is particularly "dry".
It is said that its intense perfume allowed Napoleon when he was still in the open sea and out of sight of the island, to recognize the smell of Corsica. In fact, especially in the west of Corsica, one of the less traveled and known for its overhangs on the sea, the scent of the helichrysum is pungent and fascinating.